The International Writers Magazine:Penultimate Chapter
A serialised novel in progress if you missed the first eighteen chapters
go here to start
Great Beyond Chapter X1X
in gray mist. There was nothing else but the mist; I was mist.
I hung weightless and floated without direction or effort at the
whim of the laws of entropy. There was no time or place of any
consequence there in the fog. There was no desire or ego. There
was only the mist.
Yet, something nagged.
Something pulled as if from far away and it would not stop. Slowly I
began to remember where I was and how I had gotten there. I breeched
the boundary and brought us into the Gray Area. The tear did not last.
Once we were through it imploded and then
darkness, and then
I reached out for my companions without finding them. I became aware
that I was isolated in a large cube. It had perfectly even proportions
and no hint of an opening or an exit. I exhausted every possibility
of producing my own way out and pulled myself out of mist and into a
more familiar shape. I still had my sword and the few personal affects
that I brought back from the other side. They were all essentially a
part of me and could not be removed easily.
As I meditated on my predicament I became aware of another presence
in my cage. The fog could be cleared with a wink but I found that I
was more comfortable in it; its concealing embrace was most welcome.
Besides, I didnt need to clear it to know who I was facing. My
shadow stood up and regarded me with the same scrutiny with which I
looked on him. Then he smiled and I felt cold all over.
"We meet again" he said in a loud whisper "and again
you seem to be stuck."
"It would appear so. Are you here to offer me another ride on the
"Not this time. Im here to file a complaint." He gestured
and the fog between us parted like the Red Sea billowing against the
walls. "Youve been doing well so far but you keep ignoring
some of your latent talents and its holding you back."
"You mean your talents?"
"Our talents. I am a part of you. If you keep neglecting that fact,
if you refuse the darker part of yourself youll never be complete.
Youll never be whole. Youll never get out of this box."
He was laughing; playful. There was something behind his words that
disturbed me. He was absolutely correct. I had been shunning him, the
darker part of myself though I had to admit upon reflection that I had
been tapping into it by instinct.
"Its you." I said in a flash of recognition. "You
are the reason no one can see me. You are the factor that keeps them
from seeing my future."
"Youre a sharp one. It was only a matter of time before you
realized it. Sometimes you just need a small shove in the right direction."
He moved closer and put out his hands with the palms forward and fingers
His words were my own. We were the same being. He was not acting independently;
I was in control of everything that was happening. But I was seeing
it as if from outside of myself. I found that I could look through his
eyes and hear with his ears. The conversation was not between two distinct
bodies, it was with myself. There was only one thing left to do. I put
my hands out and touched my fingertips to his. They began to meld and
fuse into each other followed by hands and forearms and so on. We merged
into one being and in doing so the full force of this dark aspect flooded
into my psyche. At first it was overwhelming, the entirety of every
dark and frightening place in myself came fully open and alive. It struggled
against opposing forces in a fierce internal struggle for dominance.
As it happened I saw the extent of the power I unleashed by opening
myself to its reality. Too much power for anyone to possess. Cold panic
gripped my mind as it began to take control, then slowly it receded
and a balance restored my senses. I felt complete in a way that I never
had before. And I felt strong. The shadow was no longer there, it was
where it belonged. It was with me inside and it filled me with raw power.
There was no longer a struggle within. An equilibrium was established
that gave me control and left me perfectly centered. I took a deep breath
and the fog disappeared. I could see the transparent walls of the cage
covered in mist on the outside. I gave a wink and it too vanished, but
the mist didnt rush in. I was in the center of a cube which held
it back as it boiled around me. Another wink and it began to clear and
figures began to appear.
My companions were there with a few familiar faces and some not so familiar
or amused. One old looking man in a pair of dirty coveralls sat looking
particularly perturbed in my direction.
Urimaru turned to someone I recognized from the council and said "Pay
He kept quiet and passed him something while looking at me in awe.
"Took you long enough." said Jerry.
"His nibs the Caretaker didnt take too kindly to our barging
in from the other side." he indicated the angry looking fellow.
I faced him and spoke. "Sir, I humbly apologize for our intrusion
into your domain, and I do beg your pardon. I assure you that it wont
happen again, and if there is any recompense I can afford you, you have
only to ask."
He looked sternly at me for several moments, then his face broke into
a smile. "Son, youre the only one of this bunch with an ounce
of manners. Apology accepted. The names Ben."
"A pleasure Ben. Call me Sloan." We shook hands and the mood
suddenly lightened palpably. "We wont be staying long. Theres
a lot to do."
"Not so fast." said one of our new companions. "We need
to plan our next move."
It was one of the aids I had seen at the council meeting before we fled.
He was saying something about a meeting and other members waiting, but
I was looking hard at a beautiful feminine face that seemed oddly familiar.
She was looking at me when she interrupted him. "Might I have a
moment alone with him before we begin?"
They all looked at her then at me. "Certainly madam."
They filed out of the room followed by Ben. We continued to study each
other from a short distance long after they were gone. I searched my
memory while the silence prevailed until I recognized her. It was the
guard who escorted me to the cell where the council kept me after I
brought them Shugg. The woman with the spear and the helmet that covered
her eyes. A shame I thought, because they were enchanting.
"You look like your great grandfather." She said suddenly.
"The same eyes and mouth. The same far-away look. The same posture,
ready for anything."
"I dont think weve been properly introduced."
"Call me Hazel." she said.
"Im Sloan. Its a pleasure to meet you."
"I know who you are. Not surprising as nearly everyone knows who
you are now. But I knew you before you were born." She motioned
to a bench and we sat down.
"Im one of your ancestors Sloan. A great-great grandmother
or so. Ive been watching you for a long time now. Like a number
of our line I was born with a gift. I have a touch of premonition, an
insight. I knew that you would be born and what you would be for years
before I could comprehend it. I cant see you anymore than anyone
else can, or what will become of you, or what you will accomplish, but
I knew that you would be, and now here you are."
"Am I what you expected?"
"More so, I should think." She took my hands in hers and looked
them over, as well as my arms and legs and the rest of me. "Yes."
She said at last. "Yes, you will do. You are a fitting end to us.
You will make us proud."
"An end to us?"
"You are the last of our line Sloan. You had no brothers or sisters,
and your mother will bear no more children. You are the last and you
represent the end of a line of individuals with an unusual quirk of
exhibiting rare abilities. I just wanted a moment alone with you to
see you for myself."
I felt her sadness as if it were my own. I wondered if Urimaru or Jerry
felt it too. I put out my hand and she took it. I let her see into my
deepest and innermost self. I opened up to her completely and let her
explore my entire being. She held on for a long time, savoring the experience
and looking fondly at my development and growth into what I had become.
She embraced me for long afterward when we broke the connection. "Thank
you." she whispered.
We joined the others in a large room where exiles from the council were
plotting an attack to reclaim the compound and overthrow the new seat
of power. Bad ideas followed worse ideas as they whipped themselves
into a righteous frenzy. Jerry was moderating, but soon gave up as order
completely broke down. Ben seemed very amused. He was enjoying the chaos
with the objective mirth of a boss of the Gray Area. He existed outside
of their bickering, and felt obliged to ridicule it. I finally interrupted
as it appeared to be going nowhere rapidly. When I had their attention,
I spoke openly to all of them. "If youre all finished for
a moment, I have a proposal to make. Follow me from here and call all
of our allies to us. Together we will return to the compound and well
set things right again."
"Impossible. Well never get near the place. Theyll
swarm all over us as soon as we leave the Gray Area."
Objections and postulations flew for a while until they agreed to humor
me with silence once again.
"I am not commanding you or ordering you to follow me. I am simply
inviting you to join me. I am leaving for the compound now. When I get
there Im going to renegotiate with management at the council and
put an end to the exile. You are welcome and encouraged to follow. I
promise that if you do, you wont be disappointed." With that
I turned and left, followed by Jerry, Urimaru, Hazel and a few others.
More and more followed as we moved out of the Gray Area and headed for
the council. A general call to arms went out and our numbers grew into
an army as we closed in. The enemies came and went, unorganized and
unable to penetrate my defenses. I exuded an aura of force that covered
every soul that marched with us. It grew as the mob grew and the resistance
that they expected never came as we poured into the compound. There
was no fighting. I expressly forbid it. The council members who had
assumed control were in a meeting of their own when we broke through
the doors. I pushed forward and pinned them all to their seats with
a small effort of will. I could sense the impotent outrage but paid
little attention to it. Any lingering bad blood between us was now moot.
"I still have a lot to do, so Ill make this as brief as possible."
I began. "This institution exists because it is necessary. The
venerable council must be maintained to preserve a balance, and therefore
you will cease all petty squabbling and return to the brotherhood which
once united you all in wisdom and virtue. The divisions between council
members are old and deep. They were manifested themselves when I arrived,
but they existed for much longer than I have. These must be put aside
now, and order must be restored to your ranks. You need not worry yourselves
with me or what I will do from here on out. I have urgent business that
I have to finish with the opposition, and I dont have time to
explain. Let it suffice to say that I am no longer your concern. You
may feel compelled to contest this, but to do so is futile. I will not
be controlled or commanded. I have grown beyond your abilities to do
so, as individuals or as a collective." With that, I released my
hold on them. No one moved, or even considered trying to confront me.
The simple demonstration of power was apparently enough. "The exile
you have imposed is now at an end. Let all who were banished return
without fear and without ill will. Your work is too important to be
shirked for a grudge." I turned to Jerry and the other members
of the council who followed me in. They moved forward and took their
seats as a communion began. To my relief there was no hostility or bickering.
There was still some doubt as to what would happen after I left, but
they all seemed able to accept it as fact. I joined in the communion
and felt old disputes being resolved without malice, and a new sense
of companionship spread over them. It seemed that the exile had taken
a toll on the remaining members. Their problems had multiplied exponentially
since the schism, and they welcomed the exiles return wholeheartedly.
They needed each other more than they realized. When it was over a calm
swept through the compound. A reverent silence followed for a long time
after the communion was over. Whatever divisions there had been were
now hardly noticeable.
Afterward Urimaru and I found an empty room and shared a drink.
"If I hadnt seen it for myself, I never would have believed
it." He said. "Things havent been this calm here for
centuries, or longer. Theyll be talking about this day for the
rest of eternity."
"There were some members missing. Are they still waiting for exiles
"No. Everyone has been accounted for. After the split a few tried
to seize power and were destroyed. They had been dealing with the other
side, spreading poison and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
If there are any left they wont stay hidden long. What are you
going to do now?"
"I have to take Shugg and find his master. I cant stop with
the council. I have to face the other side and let them know I mean
"What do you have in mind?"
"Ill think of something." I said. We let the room get
quiet. There would be plenty to talk about after the last big battle
© Brodie Parker December 2005
Begun May 10th 2004 - this
Chapter December 2005
Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter five here
Chapter Fifteen here
Chapter Seventeen here
Chapter Eighteen here
Chapter Nineteen here
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